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TV Review: Major changes needed before electric car revolution can go full-speed ahead

The programme looks at how our every day lives would change through the mass use of electric cars
The programme looks at how our every day lives would change through the mass use of electric cars The programme looks at how our every day lives would change through the mass use of electric cars

Electric Cars: What They Really Mean for You, BBC One, Tuesday at 8pm

Just last week the issues facing electric car owners were paramount in our house.

We were making the daily return journey to Derry to watch our son play football at the Foyle Cup – a round trip of 180 miles every day.

As other electric car owners will know, there was no way my husband’s 'green vehicle' would get us there and back.

With a distinct lack of electric charging points across Northern Ireland, we had no other option but to take our ‘gas-guzzling’ car for the journeys.

We are constantly told that electric cars are the future and that from 2030, we will be unable to buy a new petrol or diesel car under plans set out by the British government.

Our problems on the football run last week were not unique and the numerous issues facing electric car owners are well-documented.

Read more:

EVs too expensive and don't go far enough, say most NI drivers

Switch to electric vehicles will require business ‘buy-in'

ESB introduces payments for electric vehicle public charging network

In this programme, Justin Rowlatt looks at how our everyday lives would change through the mass use of electric cars.

It is part of a BBC investigation into whether the UK is on track to hit the government’s targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

“It's going to be the biggest change in generations, the homes we live in and the cars we drive – all transformed," Rowlatt tells us.

“To slow down climate change, the government has promised a green revolution, a carbon-neutral, net-zero future by 2050."

But are the plans remotely realistic?

Electric cars are the future, but is the UK ready? Don’t miss our fascinating doc @BBCOne Tuesday at 8pm or @BBCiPlayer @AttaboyTV @ChiefExecCCC @ELPinchbeck @elecclassiccars @QuentinWillson pic.twitter.com/1xmZeVHKls — Justin Rowlatt (@BBCJustinR) July 19, 2023

The programme looks at the mass use of electric cars, the huge scientific challenges they present and asks questions to those people supposed to be making these significant changes happen.

The look at the electric car revolution begins in Wales where Rowlatt meets Richard Morgan, known as Moggy, who is described as being a man on “an electric mission”.

Moggy tells us to expect the future of driving, but instead it appears he has gone 'back to the future' as he produces a vintage-style VW Beetle.

Time and labour has been spent converting it to an electric vehicle, with Moggy – a self-confessed petrol head – telling us “whoever thinks electric cars are boring, needs to come and drive one of these”.

He runs a business that converts classic cars to electric ones, with an Aston Martin and a Porsche, among those in his workshop.

He claims that removing the original gas-guzzling engine and replacing it with an electric motor is the answer, which will also make these cars faster and more powerful.

While it sounds good on paper – it's nice to look at on the road and adheres to better economical standards – there's no mention of how far it goes before needing charged or how much it cost to convert.

Coming back to reality, the fear of where the next charging point will be is examined by presenter Michelle Ackerley.

There around 44,000 public electric chargers around the UK
There around 44,000 public electric chargers around the UK There around 44,000 public electric chargers around the UK

She says there are around 44,000 public chargers around the UK, which may sound a lot, but equates roughly to one charger for every 750 vehicles.

Driving into an all-electric forecourt in Hertfordshire, with around 20 chargers on offer, she describes it as "charging heaven" and then heads in for a relaxing coffee break.

But what if you are late for an appointment or have a car full of screaming kids – have you always 40 minutes to spare to get the car charged up?

Then there's Michelle's other alternative: an electric lance.

The device can plug into power hubs, which lie flat on a pavement. But are we really going to use these?

At present around one quarter of carbon emissions are created by cars and transport.

I totally understand the commitment to become ‘net-zero’ and yes, while it is greener not to drive at all and the electric car revolution may be the best solution, there are significant changes needed first.

Quiet, efficient and unpolluting they may be, but the cost of these vehicles - just under £30k is the average price of a new electric car - and the lack of available charging points in Northern Ireland are major drawbacks.

It is simply not enough to encourage the public to support 'going greener'. Much more is needed to be done before the electric car revolution can go full-speed ahead.